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Big Five trait theory Essay

A trait, this is a characteristic way in which an individual perceives, feels, believes or acts. We use trait to describe someone, whether he or she is an introvert, a petty nervous person, strongly attached to the family and whether they are very intelligent. Most psychologists, especially personologists are interested in finding what kind of traits that are broad and perhaps genetically based, as opposed to those that are peculiar and changes very easily.

On the basis of psychoanalysis of personality theory, the big five personality traits are based on five broad dimensions of personality, and this has been discovered through empirical research, and they are categorized as; openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (OCEAN). These are the descriptive model of a person’s personality (Barrick, & Mount, 1991).

A number of theories do exist which attempts to describe the key traits of human being and one of the most common and earliest introduced is the theory that is concerned with the inborn, genetically determined traits known as temperaments; introduced by Sigmund Freud by the name of Carl Jung. However, this theory was further developed by Myers and Briggs C (Jung’s theory students) and developed a personality test based an Jung’s temperament which is now known as the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), which has actually become one of the most famous personality test of all time (Bagby, Marshall, & Georgiades, 2005).

Quite often traits are seen as opposites, and the first set of this is contrast between introversion and extraversion, the first refers to the tendency of one preferring the world inside oneself, like shyness, distaste for social functions, and love of privacy while the latter extraversion is the tendency to look to the outside world and in specific, for one’s pleasures. These are individuals who are normally outgoing and enjoy social activities, and they are uncomfortable when they are alone. Many extraverts’ people, this makes introverts most times feel a bit put upon.

In fact in our current society is very pro-extravert, to the point of seeing introversion as abnormal and funnily seeing shy people to be in need of therapy! But some cultures see extraverts as the oddballs (Barrick, & Mount, 1991). But whether one is introvert or extravert, one is either born with or not and remain that way for the rest of his/her life. It is therefore up to the task of an introvert to behave more like an extravert or as an extravert learn to behave more like an introvert, although it is not easy to switch between the two.

Either, being an introvert or extravert is determined by a single gene, and this is something that is pretty unusual for more physical differences. They are the major issues in personality, development, and mental health, although there is currently no evidence for this (McCrae, & Costa, 1990). Furthermore, there is a contrast between sensing and intuiting people; because in sensing, it means getting all their information about life from their senses they therefore tend to be realistic, down-to-earth people, but they often tend to see everything in overly simplistic concrete, black or in white terms.

While intuiting people tend to get their information from intuition, they therefore tend to be a little bit out of touch with the more solid aspects of reality; that is to say they are a little flakey, however, they might see “the big picture” behind the details better. Most intuition people are often artistic and sometimes philosophical. And because majority of people are sensing, they normally make intuiters feel rather lonely and unappreciated, and considering that our society tends to be distrustful of dreamers, artists, and intellectuals, even though other societies may be more appreciating (De Fruyt, McCrae, Szirmak, & Nagy, 2004).

Secondly, there is a contrast between thinkers and feelers, for thinking people most times make their decisions on the basis of thinking, that is to say reasoning, logic and step-by-step problem solving and it works very well for physical problems, although it leaves some desires when dealing with situations that are complex like people. And for feeling people, they make their decisions based on their feelings, and this is a kind of intuition that works very well when dealing with people (McCrae, & Costa, 1990).

Logistically, half of people are thinkers while the other half, are feelers; however, this proportion differ when looking at gender, because majority of males are thinkers while most women are feelers and this matches with even the old stereotypes and the recent research however, there is no any good reason to value thinking over feeling since each has its strengths and weaknesses.

The controversy between judging and perceiving; judging people in most times according to Freud’s anal retentive types are neat, orderly, hardworking, always on time, and schedules things very carefully, and an example is a college professor, but perceiving people are more spontaneous for they prefer to do things as the spirit dictates them, they are perhaps more fun than judging but they tend not to get things done an example is college students (De Fruyt, McCrae, Szirmak, & Nagy, 2004).

However in all the above discussions, it is also important at this point to look at neuroticism, where people tend to be very nervous, emotional sort of people. Although it does not necessary mean one is neurotic, it actually means that one is more likely to develop, problems that are associated with neuroticism such as phobias, obsessions, and compulsions, in fact these days low neuroticism is often known as emotional stability.

And in relation to neuroticism is Psychoticism, and as the name itself suggests these are people with tendencies to psychosis, that is to say that they are more likely to have problems dealing with reality. Most often psychotic people have hallucinations and delusions like odd beliefs like these of being watered, perhaps by the CIA, or even by creatures on earth and other planets. Secondly, after extraversion-introversion, is emotional stability, and these are people who are not nervous and they are not emotional in short it is an opposite of the neuroticism.

They don’t experience negative feelings like anxiety, anger or depression, although they are more likely to experience, one or tow of the emotions. These people are emotionally uncreative that is to say, they don’t respond emotionally to events that affect them and their reactions to most events are quite very normal. They are not more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and also minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult.

In addition, negative emotional reactions tend to persist for usually short periods of time, this means, they are often in a good mood. These problems in emotional regulations for these people diminish because of their ability to think clearly, decision making, and coping effectively with stress. In general these people tend to be calm, emotionally stable, and they are free from persistent of negative feelings (Barrick, & Mount, 1991). However, all the above five factors, and the latter two so far discussed show an influence from both hereditary and environment.

During childhood and adolescent stages, a person’s ratings on these factor traits may change, with average levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness which typically increases while Extraversion neuroticism and openness decreases. But for most people after attaining 30 years stability rather than change becomes the general rule, there is remarkable stability during adulthood. But this does not mean that personality cannot change, given the altering circumstances in life or any efforts to do so, it actually means after attaining 30 all people generally do not change their personality very much.

As regards to men and women they show remarkable differences in the above across cultures, women show good response to agreeableness and neuroticism domains, all the same, there is inmate gender differences in personality (McGhee, Ehrler, & Buckhalt, 2007). Conclusion This leaves the area of investigation to make a model of personality, because the big five personality traits are only empirical observations and not a theory; it therefore means that the observations of personality research still remains to be explained.

And last but not least, is the downwards extension of the big five theory or the five factor model into childhood, because this will provide children’s social and emotional adjustments and also in academic achievement as they grow. This is because there are implications that, the structure of personality traits might be more differentiated in childhood than in adulthood (McGhee, Ehrler, & Buckhalt, 2007). References


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